Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ancient Glamour Mani

One of my earliest serious career ambitions (after I finished the phase where I was going to be a policewoman/ballerina by day and Wonder Woman by night) was to be an archeologist. In particular, I have always been fascinated by ancient Egypt. I periodically go on an archeological documentary spree, which has been made infinitely easier since Netflix has quite a few that can be watched online. This mani was inspired by my most recent spree.

I started with a base of China Glaze Sexy in the City, a bright teal shimmer that tends more toward blue than green. This is a very vibrant color on it's own, and it reminds me of a greener version of Frostbite, one of my favorite China Glaze colors. The formula was unremarkable. I had no application problems, and it was opaque in two coats. You might want three to realize it's full color potential. The only downside to this polish was that is stained my nails something awful!  Be sure to wear a base coat to keep your nails from becoming a splotchy blue horror show.

Over Sexy in the City, I added a coat of China Glaze Cracked Medallion, which is a light bronze with metallic shimmer. I was expecting it to be very thick based on my experience with the other CG crackles, but in fact, it was pretty thin. I actually had to work pretty hard to get it on as thick as I wanted. Since I decided to apply it horizontally, instead of cuticle-to-tip, this was a little challenging. In the end it didn't really matter since part of the point of crackles is being a little random and messy.

As I'd hoped, this combination put me in mind of the colors and textures of tomb paintings and inlaid jewelry. So, I'll leave you with a related reading recommendation. His Majesty Queen Hatshepsut by Dorothy Carter is a fictionalized account of the life of Hatshepsut, possibly Egypt's only female pharaoh,* written for a young adult audience. It was one of my favorite books when I first read it in the fifth grade, and I enjoyed it very much when I read it again as an adult. It's quite historically accurate, and Hatshepsut is a very interesting historical figure.

*There were a number of other women who ruled Egypt as regents or queens, but Hatshepsut is the only one who is known for sure to have claimed the status of Pharaoh and taken on all of the titles and traditions that went with it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Great Giveaways

Since I am still a little sick and behind on posting, I'll give you a round up of a couple of giveaways from blogs I enjoy.

Ends September 17, 2011


Ends September 9, 2011

Saturday, August 27, 2011

First Half Moon Mani

I'm behind on blogging right now because I'm on day three of a miserable cold. Something just feels wrong about having a cold in the summer. Bleh. I'm feeling a little better today, so I'll show you some nails from earlier in the week before I was stricken.

I've wanted to try a half moon manicure for a while, but kept forgetting to pick up hole protectors to use as guides. I finally remembered, and behold.

I started with a base of OPI Bling Dynasty, which is a dark, brownish gold shimmer. This polish applied very smoothly with no running. It was mostly opaque after two coats, but if I were going to wear it on it's own, I'd want a third to make sure it was completely even. Once Bling Dynasty was dry, I placed the hole protectors over the lower portion of my nail, then applied one coat of Wet 'n' Wild Black Creme over the rest of my nail. Black Creme is exactly what is says it is. It applies smoothly, is opaque in one coat, and dries quickly. I finished with one coat of Out the Door.

I'll definitely need more practice placing the hole protectors and making this neat, but I really like the look. In this color combination, it looks sort of art deco. It's very striking in person; I think it would look great with formal wear.

After some research, I found out that in the 1920's and 30's it was considered "correct" to leave the half moon portion of the nail unpainted. At times the tip was left bare as well. I'm not really into recreating vintage looks, but I do like reinterpreting them and even subverting them. I also found it interesting to learn that there were bolder polish colors like green, silver, gold, and blue available back then, even if they weren't widely used.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Citrus Mani

Despite the heat (today's high was around 95), it's starting to look like fall. I'm starting to look forward to fall colors and clothes, but for the moment, I have to face the fact that summer is going to be with us a while longer. At least that means more colorful, summer nails. Not that cooler weather will hold me back from wearing bright colors when I feel like it! Today, I have a juicy, summery mani to show off.

I started this one with a base of Color Club I Always Get My Mandarin from their Wicked Sweet collection of scented polishes. It's a slightly yellow medium orange with green and blue shimmer sufficient to give it a slight duochrome effect. The formula of this polish was quite thin in both consistency and pigmentation. It tended to want to run and pool around my cuticles, and after three coats, you can still see a bit of nail line. That said, it looks good sheer, so I was really fine with that aspect. It also has a nice, light orange scent, which I could still smell even after stamping and top coat.

On top, I stamped the citrus shapes from Bundle Monster plate BM04 with Revlon Top Speed Emerald. I originally wanted to do the stamping in a darker orange, but I couldn't get any of the oranges I have to work. So, I went to my go to green stamping polish and made them limes instead.

The shimmer in this polish was very hard to photograph, and I really didn't get a good picture of it. However, this shade picture shows how it can look greener in some lights.

When I got this polish, I found it in the kids section of TJ Maxx. Apparently, they thought only kids would want scented polish. Silly TJ Maxx.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What Goes with Digit Decor?

I've run across Polyvore once or twice before, but I read about it again on Power Femme, and decided to give it a try. Like Krystal of Power Femme, I'm not sure I get the point of it, but it's fun looking at all the pretty pictures. I spent more time than is really reasonable putting this together.

Digit Decor Fall Wishes

For this collection, I just picked out things that appeal to me. A few of them I already own, a couple I'll probably never get, some I hope to pick up sometime, and a picture of Adele, who I'm loving a lot right now.

On a more serious note, I make an effort to support brands and retailers that carry plus sizes and avoid those that don't. I just don't like spending my money with vendors that don't acknowledge me as part of their customer base, even if it's only for accessories. All of the brands and sellers included in this collection meet my basic criteria of carrying at least portions of their clothing lines in plus sizes. That's another reason I love nail polish - one size truly fits all!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Purple Haze Mani

For this manicure, I decided to try a new technique: gradient color. I've seen many versions of this on a lot of blogs, and I love how it looks. For some reason, I'd gotten it in my head that this was going to be really hard, but I think it turned out well, particularly for a first effort.

I started with a base of Essie Nice is Nice, which is a pale lavender creme. The texture of this formula was nearly perfect. It applied very smoothly, with no tendency to run or pool. On the other hand, the pigmentation was very light. It took three coats (thin ones) to get rid of some bare patches and be opaque.

Next, I used a small piece of makeup sponge to dab an uneven layer of OPI Planks a Lot on top of Nice is Nice. After a little experimentation, I found that it worked best to start from the tip and work my way toward the cuticle. This helped ensure that the darkest color was near the tip. I also added some additional dabs of Nice is Nice to blur the edges. Finally, I repeated the sponging process near the tips with Finger Paints Purple Palette. I finished with two coats of Out the Door to eliminate the slight texture that came from the sponge.

I have gotten more compliments on this mani than any I've done in a while. It's fairly subtle (comparatively), with just the right amount of sparkle from Purple Palette. I could use some more practice to avoid making strips instead of having the color fade smoothly, but I can definitely tell you to expect to see more of this technique.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Geek Nails: Swamp Thing Edition

Ever since Sammy of The Nailasaurus did her Week of Geek featuring nail art tributes to various topics of geeky fandom, I've been brainstorming ways to do some theme nails of my own. Since I'm not at all handy at freehanding nail art, I have to think of ways to use color and stamping to reflect my favorite characters.

Today's geek nails are inspired by one of my favorite comic book characters: Swamp Thing, created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson. In comics, Swamp Thing is both a human soul seeking to find a life in an inhuman body and an earth elemental with a deep connection to life of all kinds. I could wax on about the character for an entire post, but this is the wrong blog for that, so on with the nails!

I started with a base of OPI Stranger Tides, which is a murky, light olive green. The formula on this was a little tricky, as it was thin and runny. It badly wanted to pool around my cuticles (which is pretty obvious in some of these pictures). It took three coats to be opaque and even. That said, it is a great color and dried quickly despite the three coats.

On top of Stranger Tides, I used a makeup sponge to add random dabs of Revlon Hot for Chocolate to give the background some texture. Finally, I stamped a cluster of flowers from Bundle Monster plate BM15 three to four times to cover each nail using the slim brush dark green from KleanColor Nail Duo Bright. This polish comes in a two ended bottle that has a base color with a regular brush on one end and a nail art color with a thin brush on the other. The polish worked great for stamping, but the shape of the bottle was a pain, as there was no easy way to put the brush down between stamps.For my accent nail, I stamped a rose using Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Ton of Bricks. It didn't really pop as much as I wanted, so I added a red rhinestone on top.

Finally, I used Essie Matte About You topcoat (over my normal Out the Door topcoat) to give my nails a matte finish, since neither swamps nor swamp monsters are well known for their glossiness. It also seemed to change the color a little, minimizing the yellow undertones.


The roses on my accent nails are a reference to one of my favorite Swamp Thing story lines. In issue 52, Swamp Thing's wife Abby has been arrested in an attempt to trap him. Using a rose that Abby has carried into the courtroom, Swamp Thing grows a new body covered in roses and puts Gotham City on notice that he's taking over until she's released. He then covers Gotham in impenetrable plant life until she is, in fact, released. This story was written by Alan Moore, who's run on Swamp Thing is the best in the series. If you want to give Swamp Thing a try, I highly recommend reading his take on the character, which ran from issue 20 through 64 and is available in trade paperback form.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dusk Pearl

I'd originally written a whole review of this polish, then decided it wasn't really necessary. I picked up this polish at the Dollar Tree because I liked the bottle. The color doesn't appear to have a name. It says Dusk on the label, but there were several other colors with the same label. I decided to wear it now because I've been re-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and she wears all these really light nail colors in seasons one and two.

Finally, here's the bottle that inspired the purchase. It was worth every bit of $1.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Dewy Rose Manicure

I bought the two polishes I used for this manicure together because the colors such a good match. It took me a while to get around to using them, but now that I have it won't be long until I use them again.

The main color for this mani is China Glaze Fifth Avenue, which is a dark, dusty rose creme. The formula on this was very nice. It was a little thick, but went on smoothly. It was almost opaque in one coat, but took two to get really even coverage. For my accent nail, I used Finger Paints Hue Left a Message?, which has a translucent pink base with lighter pink glitter. On it's own, Hue Left a Message? is pretty sheer. When layering it over Fifth Avenue, the similarity of the base color gives the same color glitter a subtle, starry effect that I really love.

The only surprise was that Fifth Avenue dried significantly darker than the bottle color as you can see in this picture.

No one should look this closely at my cuticles.
I think I was attracted to this color because it reminds me of one of the first nail polish colors I remember owning in middle school. I had a long sleeved t-shirt the same color that was the softest, most perfectly broken-in shirt, and I wore it all the time.

What about you, do you have any colors that you like for nostalgic reasons?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Crazy Nail Polish Lady Mani

The polishes in this post led to my first official Crazy Nail Polish Lady moment (this is a title usually held by one of my nail polish mentors). I was at the Dollar Tree, which had gotten in a whole bunch of these three packs of Maybelline Colorama polishes. I'm on a budget, so I haven't been buying polish lately, but at $0.33 each, I felt like I could splurge and get a few. To maximize each dollar, I was systematically looking at each package to make sure I got the colors I wanted and minimize duplicates. Another shopper stopped and looked at me for a couple of minutes. Thinking she wanted to look herself, I offered to step aside, since I might be a while. She replied, "I don't like those colors," and walked away. Clearly, what caught her interest was my lunacy.

I started with two coat of Maybelline Colorama Raspberry Sorbet, which is a bright fushia shimmer. I was pleasantly surprised with the application of this polish. The consistency was great and easy to control. It went on very smoothly and was basically opaque in two coats. There was some patchiness that appeared in bright sun, but I'm sure a third coat would have taken care of it. The downside was that it didn't wear very well. I took this picture less than 24 hours after putting the polish on, and you can already see some chips on my thumb.

On top of Raspberry Sorbet, I added two coats of Maybelline Colorama Pink Pinata, which has a very light pink base with multi-colored flakes.

 Unfortunately, there was no good sunlight when I was taking pictures, so it was hard to show off Pink Pinata. This picture shows a little of the flaky goodness, but it was much more pronounced in person. That said, I think a darker base color with more contrast would be a better partner for Pink Pinata.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lava Mani

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a blog post someone did where they put a black crackle over a sparkly red polish and commented that it reminded them of lava. That idea really stuck in my head, and I decided to do my own version. Unfortunately, my Google-fu has failed me, and I can't find that original post. I'd love to give credit where it's due, so if you posted that and happen to see this, let me know!

For my version of the lava mani, I decided to use KleanColor Chunky Holo Scarlet for the red. This polish is fairly sheer, so I started with one coat of Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Mellow Yellow to give it a bright base. I followed that with two coats of Holo Scarlet, which went on very smoothly. It has a red-orange tinted jelly base, but somehow doesn't seem as gloopy as a lot of other glitter-jelly combos.

I topped it with OPI Black Shatter. Most of the time, I like it that Black Shatter has a thinner consistency and cracks more than some other crackles, but in this case, I was hoping for something that would look more like the skin of cooling rock on top of lava. I was thinking of something more like my Turquoise Stone Mani, so maybe the China Glaze black would be better for this look.

The KleanColor Chunky Holos that I picked up all seem to have the same holo glitter in different colored bases. In a few cases, the base color has enough of an effect to make the glitter look different. Holo Scarlet is one of those; it really makes the glitter look much redder. In this case, it glinted like hotter points in the lava. It didn't pick up well in the photos, but I really enjoyed it.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Family Camp Mani

Every year, my mother's side of the family gathers for a week in the mountains about two hours north of my hometown. Mostly due to work schedules, I always seem to end up going for only 1-2 days, but it's always nice to catch up with my various aunts, uncles, and cousins as well as my grandparents. The family sport of choice is croquet, but I couldn't come up with a way to work that into nail art. Maybe next year. Instead, I decided to go with something that would look nice, but be soft enough not to scandalize the older folks.

I started with a base of China Glaze Tree Hugger, which is a medium grass green polish with a little bit of a yellow undertone. It also has very fine green and blue shimmer. The shimmer is more apparent in the bottle than on the nail, but it's still a long way from a creme. The formula was decent and applied smoothly, but it was fairly thin on pigment and took three coats to cover some bald spots and dragging around the cuticles.

On top of Tree Hugger, I stamped the daisy pattern from Bundle Monster plate BM16 using Pearl White Konad Special Stamping Polish. This polish does exactly what it's supposed to and easily stamps nice, neat images. I finished by using a toothpick to add dots of Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Mellow Yellow to the center of each flower and a yellow rhinestone for the center of one flower on my ring finger (the gem photographed really dark, but is about the same color as the polish dots).

As you can see, I had to stamp my thumb twice to cover it. I really hope I can get the newer Bundle Monster plates at some point, since they're bigger. Other than that, I was really happy with how this turned out - nice and summery but not ridiculously bright.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

La Isla Bonita Mani

The stamp I used for this is from a fauxnad plate I got on ebay quite a while back. I have no idea what it's supposed to be. It's very small and consists of just a few wavy lines. Often when I'm stamping, I pick my design first, then come up with a color for it, but in this case, I'd already picked the color. When I looked at this design again with the color in mind, it looked like flowing water, and I decided to do little accent stamps across the corners of my nails so the size of the design wouldn't be a problem.

I started with a base of China Glaze Senorita Bonita. This polish is a bright purple jelly base with glass-fleck type shimmer in the same color. It is really a beautiful color and sparkly without being too blingy. In real life, it's a little redder than this picture shows and very vibrant. The base is a little thick. It had no problems with it running, but I did get some bubbling. That may have been my fault, as I tend to overwork thicker polishes trying to get thin coats. I used three coats to get maximum purple power.

This pictures shows off the stamping (and the bubbling) a little better. The stamping polish is Sally Hansen Color Quick Turquoise Chrome. I picked this polish up when I saw it on clearance because of my success stamping with Gold Chrome  and it didn't disappoint. Like Gold Chrome, Turquoise Chrome dried very quickly, but it made lovely, crisp stamps. I'd really like to get a few more of these, but they're a little pricey.

Senorita Bonita was the polish that seemed to get the most good reviews from the China Glaze Island Escape collection, and I can see why. Speaking of Island Escape, I'll leave you with a song because every time I read Senorita Bonita, I think of La Isla Bonita.